Northern Ireland news

Small moves can make big changes, Mental Health Champion says as new campaign gets underway

Northern Ireland Interim Mental Health Champion Professor Siobhan O’Neill. Picture by Stephen Hamilton

A NEW campaign is encouraging people to incorporate physical activity in their daily routine in order to have a "significant" impact on their mental health.

The ‘Small Moves, Big Changes’ campaign is backed by the north's Mental Health Champion, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, who has said "simple easy steps" such as walking or swimming daily can drastically boost feelings of positivity.

A mental health survey conducted in the north found that only 36 per cent of the population meets a recommended daily target of at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity.

The new campaign aims to increase the number of people fitting in such activity in their daily lives, and features stories from groups within communities coming together to encourage each other to get active.

These include the Causeway coast-based Menopausal Mermaids, who meet daily for a brisk five-minute swim in the sea, and several wheelchair basketball groups.

Professor O’Neill said: "Simple easy steps such as walking or wheeling, playing sport with friends, swimming with the family, or being active around the home, can have a significant positive impact on your mental health.

"However, many people can feel intimidated or unsure of how to introduce physical activity into their daily life. You don’t have to run a marathon or join a gym; simply put, small moves can create big changes. We are hopeful that our new campaign, that features those that have done just that, will help inspire people, and demonstrate how people across Northern Ireland have forged new active solutions for their own mental wellbeing, as well as forming support networks that help themselves and others through challenging times."

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